Full name Hardik Himanshu Pandya
Born October 11, 1993, Choryasi, Gujarat
Playing role Allrounder
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium-fast
A wiry young lad from a small town in Gujarat, Hardik Pandya, with his tattoos and peroxide highlights, encapsulates the charisma and swagger of the modern-day Indian cricketer. The all-rounder was propelled into the big stage after constant exposure to prime-time television in the form of the Indian Premier League. A deep voice to go with the confidence and energy, and showing no sign of playing it safe, Pandya is the modern icon of audacity in the Indian side. Having gone through the hard grind of domestic cricket, Pandya shot to fame when he was picked up by an IPL franchise – a license to make his talent well-known on the big stage.
As several youngsters do in the modern era, Pandya announced himself to the world during the IPL, portraying his swashbuckling ability to strike the ball, outstanding fielding, and some street-smart bowling that transcends the cliché ‘just rolls his arm over’. He made the world sit up when he soaked in the pressure and came good in crunch situations, playing a pivotal role in the Mumbai franchise’s second title triumph, and winning two Man of the Match awards on his way. The Indian public and critics, who never fail to make comparisons, immediately had the inevitable question at the tip of their tongue: Had India found their first fast-bowling all-rounder since Kapil Dev?
Despite being predominantly noted for his explosive batting, Pandya is no slouch with the ball. In fact, it was his all-round skills which caught the attention of the T20 franchises during the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament culminating a national contract. Pandya’s merit was duly rewarded when he was named in India’s ODI squad for the home series against New Zealand in 2016. By this time, he had worked on his swing bowling skills, and was hitting the 140s regularly, troubling the batsmen with his nagging length. In fact, having been a part of the 2016 World T20, Pandya defended an equation reading ‘2 to win off 3’ against Bangladesh, bowling back of a length and short on a slow-ish wicket, and keeping India alive in the tournament as a result.
Pandya is relatively new to the Indian team and has already played some excellent knocks with the bat in ODIs, sealing off some tight run-chases and scoring quick runs when required. With the ability to surge when required and target a particular bowler, he has pulled off 20-run overs in pressure situations and remains a vital cog in the ODI fold. With an ageing MS Dhoni shifting into a sheet anchor mode rather than his usual swashbuckling mode, Pandya is a crucial factor in the team and can form a vital pairing with Dhoni, by batting around his stability as his apprentice to finish off games. His technique though, however useful in ODIs, isn’t the best for non-true wickets, and if he chooses the path of Test cricket, he needs to make himself more compact and solid in terms of batting fundamentals. His bowling has taken giant strides, as he has perfected the art of swing and has figured out the optimal trajectory for his speed as well to impart maximum lateral movement on the ball.
Regardless of whether Pandya is India’s next Kapil Dev, he certainly beings a much-needed balance to the side. If he remains grounded in the midst of all the glamour, and shapes his game under the able guidance of his seniors and coaches, he is destined for greatness. As of right now, it will be fascinating to watch the exuberance of blending with the maturity that comes with experience as the nation looks up at this charismatic young talent in its quest for those elusive overseas wins.
After a grueling 2018, Pandya has come out a more mature cricketer, starting from his happy-go-lucky 93 in Cape Town, to his 5-for and half-century in India’s only win in the Test series against England. Pandya’s bowling, particularly in Tests, has come a long way, with his extra bounce from a back of a length, and particularly his ability to swing the ball away from the right-hander. Despite not bowling the best deliveries at times, he does seem to have an uncanny knack of dismissing set batsmen, perhaps even established batsmen. His batting, although extremely aggressive, still needs a lot of work as he continues to exhibit a single-dimensional, all-out attack mode to his batting – an approach that has often failed in more bowler-friendly conditions.
After a mixed year of glory and heartbreak, Pandya was hampered by a severe back injury during the Asia Cup in 2018 which ruled him out of the tour of Australia. To make things worse, he received a lot of flak when an episode of a talk show aired in India, in which Pandya, along with Rahul, were called out for their misogynistic comments about women, and were suspended by the Board of Control for Cricket in India for poor conduct and tarnishing the image of Indian cricket. The ban has been lifted since the incident. Pandya, however, returned to the side after a lot of internal conflict in the board, for the ODI series against New Zealand and performed admirably, particularly with the ball and in the field. He remains a vital cog in India’s 2019 World Cup plans, providing a much-needed balance in the side, as India finally manage to get their hands on a fast-bowling all-rounder for the first time since the Great Kapil Dev.
BATTING & FIELDING STATS